Ericksen Arbuthnot Secures Double Defense Verdict

December 2016

Ericksen Arbuthnot attorneys won defense verdicts for defendants Selma Unified School District and Raisin Country Aquatics in the case entitled, Palmer v. Selma Unified School District, et al. The 10-day jury trial was venued in Fresno County Superior Court. The Honorable Alan Simpson, Department 503, presided.

The case involved a “trip and fall” incident occurring on a pool deck during a USA Swimming sanctioned “age group” swim meet at Selma High School on October 11, 2014. Plaintiff Nicole Palmer sustained multiple fractures resulting in four surgeries with the potential for future surgery secondary to the trip and fall incident. Past medical expenses were $100,000 and Ms. Palmer claimed $21,000 in wage loss from the incident. Ms. Palmer's counsel asked the jury to award her damages in the amount of $602,000.

We successfully argued that defendant Raisin Country was not negligent and that recreational immunity applied to Raisin Country pursuant to Civil Code Sec 846. Section 846 states that a property owner does not owe a duty of care “to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for any recreational purpose or to give any warning of hazardous conditions” on the property to individuals entering the property for a recreational purpose. The statute defines “recreational purpose” by listing examples of numerous recreational activities such as hiking, nature study, sightseeing, nature contacting and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic, natural, or scientific sites.

We further argued that there was no “dangerous condition” on Selma Unified's property and that recreational immunity applied to Selma Unified pursuant to Government Code Sec 831.7(a) which provides, in relevant part, that a public entity is not liable to any person who participates in a hazardous recreational activity.

The jury deliberated for just over three hours and returned with defense verdicts as to both defendants, deciding that defendant Raisin Country Aquatics did not breach the standard of care and was not negligent, and that defendant Selma Unified School District did not permit a “dangerous condition” to exist on its property.

Both defendants were represented by partner David Frankenberger and senior associate Chester E. Walls from the Fresno office.